ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Junior Nina Voith became the fifth player in program history to reach 1,000 points but the playoff-bound Haverford College women's basketball team fell short in its attempt to sweep the season series from Muhlenberg College as the host Mules hung on to defeat the Fords, 68-59, in Centennial Conference action on Wednesday night.
Despite the loss, Haverford (14-9, 11-8 CC) qualified for the Centennial playoffs for the second time in program history due to the night's other results from around the conference. Having made the program's first appearance in the playoffs last season, the Fords positioned themselves to once again be a factor in the hunt for a conference title.
The last week of the regular season brought a playoff-like feel to Wednesday night's contest inside Memorial Hall. The host Mules (16-8, 13-6) managed to inch out to an eight-point lead, 29-21, after the opening 20 minutes of the game despite Haverford forcing Muhlenberg into seven first-half turnovers.
Looking to rally after the break, the Fords hung tough and matched the Mules basket for basket in the first five minutes of the second half. Facing a nine-point deficit, 38-29, at the 14:42 mark, Haverford kicked off a 9-0 run with a putback from Shannon Smith. Dominique Meeks added a layup off a Calla Miller feed and Voith followed with a jumper from the baseline over the next minute before Jacquelyne Pizzuto capped the run with a three-pointer from the top of the key to knot the game at 38-38.
Muhlenberg answered with a run of its own to move back ahead by seven, 47-40, but the Fords did not go away. Meeks hit a turn-around jumper in the paint and, after the ensuing timeout, the Fords stood tall on the defensive end. Voith followed with a three-pointer to bring Haverford within two, 47-45, with seven minutes remaining.
Kate Clawson's layup restored the Mules' advantage to four at 6:14 and Voith came through once again with a jumper from the top of the key to keep the visitors close. Voith's jumper gave her 1,000 points for her career.
Meeks enabled the Fords to draw even closer by her efforts on both ends of the floor as she went 1-for-2 from the free throw line and then stepped in on the baseline to draw a charge on Muhlenberg's Alita Zabrecky. Elizabeth Lynch made the most of the extra possession when she delivered from behind the arc to put Haverford on top, 51-49, at 4:23.
The playoff atmosphere continued as Clawson answered with a three-pointer of her own before Pizzuto converted a driving layup to help the Fords regain the lead, 53-52, at 3:33.
Another three-pointer from Clawson put the hosts back on top, 55-53, and Haverford looked for a stop on the defensive end once more after a couple offensive possessions came up empty. The Fords turned up the heat and pushed the Mules deep into the shot clock but Nicole Pepe's desperation three pointer beat the shot clock buzzer and banked in to allow Muhlenberg to escape.
Haverford continued to apply the pressure in the final minute with three field goals but the Mules sealed the victory with a 10-for-10 performance from the free throw line.
Pizzuto established a new career high with 20 points while Voith finished with a season-high 15. Rachel Baskin and Voith shared team-high rebounding honors with seven and Miller registered a season-high four assists.
Clawson led all scorers with 23 points to go along with a game-high nine rebounds. Zabrecky chipped in with 16 points while Hannah Rush tallied a game-high five assists.
The Fords, seeded fifth in the conference tournament, close out the regular season and celebrate Senior Day on Saturday when rival Swarthmore College visits Gooding Arena at 1 p.m. Haverford will then set its sights on the playoffs with opening-round action taking place on Wednesday, February 20. The Fords will learn their opponent on Saturday pending the result of Muhlenberg's contest with Ursinus College.